06 December 2017

‘Politically correct’ rules push people to extremism, says Islamic scholar

A leading critic of religious extremism today claimed excessive political correctness may push some people towards hate-filled views.

Dr Uamsa Hasan, head of Islamic studies at the Quilliam Foundation, said stifling debate was dangerous.

He said open discussions were the key to fighting extremism among young people - and he urged against a retreat to “safe spaces” as seen at some university campuses.

Dr Hasan was speaking at Turing House free school, in Teddington, as part of a unique nationwide debating programme.

An outspoken critic of Islamist extremism, he has previously received death threats for advocating evolution within the religion.

He argued that in recent years sensitive topics such as the causes of Islamist terror have been “stifled”, leading to extreme views being pushed to the darkest corners of the internet: “If you push these issues to one side then it will explode," he said. "That is where political correctness went too far.

“Stifling debate is dangerous. We know these ignorant or dangerous views exist, but if you ignore them they don’t go away. They fester. People feel a sense of frustration that they don’t have the freedom to express their views, which can lead to even more extreme views.” [Evening Standard] Read more

05 December 2017

'Blasphemy': Hijab-clad Indian women get brutally trolled for 'insulting Islam' by dancing in public

Three Muslim women from the southern Indian state of Kerala have come under fire after a video showing them dancing in the middle of the street went viral on social media.

Shared via Facebook on 1 December, the clip showed the hijab-clad women grooving to popular tunes as part of a flash mob. However, the video received much flak, with people accusing the young women of "insulting Islam".

The performance that drew public ire featured students of a dental college in the Malappuram city of Kerala, who had taken part in an event to raise awareness on the occasion of World AIDS Day.

Apart from the flash mob, there were street plays and rallies too that were aimed at educating the public, deputy district medical officer of Malappuram Dr Muhammed Ali told the Times of India. [International Business Times] Read more

03 December 2017

'Islam brought me nothing but pain and hardship': Iranian child bride who was beaten by her husband and then forced to give up her children to flee to Australia slams harsh Muslim regime

A Muslim child bride who fled to Australia has told how she was beaten and abused by her husband, claiming her religion caused her 'nothing but pain'.

At the age of just 16 the Iranian woman was forced by her father to marry a man who was a decade older. She says she didn't want to, but Islam left her with 'no rights'.

More than two decades since her wedding day, the 39-year-old is living on the Gold Coast, Queensland, her new home after initially fleeing Iran for the safety of Europe.

Telling the Gold Coast Bulletin her story of discrimination and how she was forced to give up seeing her children, the woman revealed she has converted to Christianity. [Daily Mail Australia] Read more

A Video Journalist Wrestles With the Candor of an Egyptian Woman

.... Without a moment’s hesitation, she waved the flag, high over her head. And her friend snapped a picture. Esraa posted the photo to her Facebook account accompanied with a post where she denounced discrimination.

A few other concertgoers waved the flag, too. The act, extraordinary in its audacity, provoked public outrage. And it set off a campaign of targeted arrests.

Esraa was not at her mother’s place when the police came for her. And she has not returned to visit since then. She left her job, she moved apartments and she has been living in a state of total paralysis.

In early December, there were no official charges, but those who had been arrested were accused of “inciting debauchery” and could face years in prison.

I reminded Esraa of her words to me when we were filming: I am not scared of anything.

I asked her again if she was afraid.

“It is not fear that is dominating me; it is despair,” she said. “But I have no regrets. I did nothing wrong.” [The New York Times] Read more

Muslim school receives 'inadequate' Ofsted rating after loos did not have toilet paper for 'cultural reasons'

A Muslim girls' school has received the lowest Ofsted rating available after inspectors discovered that pupils were not provided with lavatory paper for "cultural reasons".

Staff at the fee-paying Park Avenue Girls' High School, in Stoke-on-Trent, said paper was available from the school office, but because most of the students were Asian, they preferred to wash rather than wipe.

But some of the girls told inspectors they were so unhappy about the situation that they avoided using the lavatory all day.

The school, which was visited by inspectors October, was rated "inadequate", with the report identifying a range of concerns, including safeguarding problems and the discovery of sectarian material on the premises. [The Telegraph] Read more

02 December 2017

Triple talaq: India considers jail for 'instant divorce'

Husbands who attempt "instant divorce" could be sentenced to three years in prison under draft legislation being considered in India.

The traditional practice involves a Muslim man saying "talaq" (divorce) three times - in any form, including email or text message.

It was declared unconstitutional by India's Supreme Court in August, but officials say it has continued since.

The proposed law also provides for fines and support for affected women.

The draft Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill has now been sent to regional governments for consultation.

It would explicitly ban "triple talaq", in line with the Supreme Court ruling, and lay out procedures legal procedures for a "subsistence allowance" and custody arrangements, the Press Trust of India said. [BBC] Read more

30 November 2017

Britain First may be fringe, but its anti-Islam views aren’t

The fringe anti-Muslim group Britain First is enjoying a burst of publicity after Donald Trump retweeted three of its propaganda videos. This has had the rare effect of uniting almost the entire British establishment in horror.

A firm slapdown from the office of the prime minster followed condemnation by Jeremy Corbyn. The archbishop of Canterbury joined in. Even Melanie Phillips, author of a book called Londonistan, which laments the transformation of the urban landscape by headscarves and niqabs, told BBC radio that she was “absolutely appalled”.

Earlier in the same programme, the author Ann Coulter had defended Trump. She argued it didn’t matter if the videos were inaccurately labelled, and that “the native countries are blowing up at the just constant importation of people who do not share our western values – that’s the point at issue”. [751 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 456 votes] "many Britons already fear and misunderstand Muslims"

Well most muslims want to get on with their lives like the rest of us but please tell me why most Britons should not be concerned about the small minority of terrorists amongst them and the much larger minority who express views in polls which are hostile to liberal, enlightenment values on such subjects as the equality of women, punishments for homosexuals, apostates, atheists and cartoonists.

[2ND 369] Islam is against atheists (among others). So it seems perfectly legitimate that atheists are against Islam (and afraid of).

[3RD 340] As a gay man who deeply appreciates the advantages of living in Western Europe I do 'fear' Islam and what feels like its inexorable spread across the planet.

Are you *really* suggesting that I'm wrong to do so? Please, tell me why.

[4TH 331] We can talk about how Islam per se, divorced of its adherents, is no more or less violent than the scriptures of other religions. We can also talk about how the vast majority of adherents are just normal human beings more interested in a cup of tea than fighting over interpretations of a 1,500 year old book. And the Guardian does both of these things.

But we also can't ignore the ugly fact that the terrorist groups staging regular attacks across Europe are doing so in the name of Islam, and recruiting from the Muslim population of Europe - mostly second- or third-generation migrants who are far removed enough to idealise the backward way of life that their parents or grandparents came here to escape.

And we also can't ignore that most majority-Muslim countries still cling to many values that we in the West (whether Christian or atheist) have moved on from. For example, as shown in this map from Wikipedia, it is largely only the Muslim world where homosexuality is illegal, and in many of these countries it carries the death sentence.

Is it really unreasonable to suggest that people arriving from these countries are likely to be much more homophobic than your average Briton? And there are many other issues too - for example I believe yesterday there was a Guardian editorial on child marriage, which once again is mainly a problem in the Muslim world and people with that cultural background. FGM, honour killings... I could go on.

This is not to homogenise or demonise Muslims in any way - but to warn that the massive demographic shifts caused by immigration from faraway countries could have dangerous consequences, and at present many (especially on the left) are actively engaged in brushing all possible negatives under the carpet, for fear that uttering any criticism makes them a racist. One is reminded of Orwell's comment that they are "like children playing with fire who do not know that fire is hot." [Guardian Cif] Read more

29 November 2017

St Gallen approves conditional ban on face coverings

The cantonal parliament of St Gallen on Tuesday voted in favour of introducing a ban on covering the face in public, under certain conditions.

The bill was approved by 57 votes to 55 in its second reading, reported news agency ATS.

The new rule bans anyone from covering their face in public if they present a security risk or threaten social or religious peace, a condition that will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

That could include women wearing the burqa and people covering their faces during demonstrations or protests or for criminal intent.

The bill also passed in its first reading in September, when opponents slammed the move, saying it was superfluous and unsuitable.

Writing in the St Gallen Tagblatt at the time, editor Andri Rostetter criticized the law's implication that the authorities must make an “instant assessment” as to whether a person who covers their face is a threat. [The Local] Read more

Ex-Muslims: They left Islam and now tour the US to talk about it

.... "You can find beauty within Islam itself," he tells the audience. "It's an amalgam of many, many ideas. Some are good, some bad.

"A lot of them are outdated, because it was the 7th Century. It doesn't mean they're all bad. Personally speaking, one of the better things in Islam is the emphasis on charity."

The talk ends with questions - some from Muslims, some from non-Muslims. They are all respectful. The policeman sits by the door, legs crossed, interested.

Before the talk, Muhammad admitted he had doubts. Not about leaving Islam - but about whether being a well-known ex-Muslim was worth it.

"Of course, everybody has those moments," he says. "It's normal, it's human. Is this worth the toll it's taking on me?

"But on the flip side you also see the good you're doing. You see the people who were suffering in bad situations [who are] doing great now.

"It's heartening to hear those stories - to hear how we've affected their lives." [BBC] Read more

Muslim population in some EU countries could triple, says report

The Muslim population in some European countries could triple by 2050 while it will barely change in others, according to new projections released by the Washington-based Pew Research Centre.

The report, Europe’s Growing Muslim Population, shows a stark west-east divide. The Muslim share of Germany’s population could grow from 6.1% in 2016 to 19.7% in 2050 if high migration continues, whereas over the border Poland’s share would change from 0.1% to 0.2% in the same scenario.

Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Muslim population share in the west would continue to grow owing to a younger age profile and higher fertility rates, but remain very low in the east.

According to Pew’s data, Muslims made up 4.9% of Europe’s population in 2016, with an estimated 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to almost half a million annually, largely due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. [The Guardian] Read more

Europe’s Growing Muslim Population

.... The baseline for all three scenarios is the Muslim population in Europe (defined here as the 28 countries presently in the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland) as of mid-2016, estimated at 25.8 million (4.9% of the overall population) – up from 19.5 million (3.8%) in 2010.

Even if all migration into Europe were to immediately and permanently stop – a “zero migration” scenario – the Muslim population of Europe still would be expected to rise from the current level of 4.9% to 7.4% by the year 2050. This is because Muslims are younger (by 13 years, on average) and have higher fertility (one child more per woman, on average) than other Europeans, mirroring a global pattern.

.... Finally, a “high” migration scenario projects the record flow of refugees into Europe between 2014 and 2016 to continue indefinitely into the future with the same religious composition (i.e., mostly made up of Muslims) in addition to the typical annual flow of regular migrants. In this scenario, Muslims could make up 14% of Europe’s population by 2050 – nearly triple the current share, but still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe. [Pew Research Center] Read more

EU Migrant Policies Rejected by 74 Per Cent of People in Central Europe

A strong majority of Europeans across 11 nations are opposed to the European Union’s (EU) immigration policies, including nearly nine in 10 Hungarians.

The survey was conducted by the Nézopont Institute in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

It revealed that 74 per cent of respondents in those countries believed that the EU’s migration policies have or will be negative for the continent.

Central Europeans were the most opposed, with 89 per cent of Slovaks and Hungarians holding a negative view of the policies, closely followed by 88 per cent of Czechs.

Meanwhile, 63 per cent of Austrians and 58 per cent of Germans also said the mass immigration overseen by the EU is bad for the bloc. [Breitbart London] Read more

Clacton MP Giles Watling calls for halal meat to be banned from schools

CLACTON MP Giles Watling has called on County Hall bosses to ban halal meat from schools.

Mr Watling wants Essex County Council to ban religiously-slaughtered meat due to concerns over animal welfare.

The law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, which leaves them unable to feel pain during the process. But there is an exception for animals slaughtered for religious purposes.

Mr Watling said he believes slaughtering animals that are not pre-stunned is “barbaric” and causes the animals unnecessary pain.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Totally agree! Does this mean all our children are subjected to eating Halal meat. If so its its a disgrace and must be stopped.

[HIGH RATED COMMENT] Halal should be banned in this country full stop. I think it's disgusting!

[ANOTHER] This needs to be a National initiative, not a local one. The government already dictates menu choices to schools under the "healthy schools initiative" - such as the number of portions of fried food allowed per week, so it can be extended to include animal welfare requirements - not only this but also things like free range eggs. [The Clacton and Frinton Gazette] Read more

28 November 2017

Islamic faith schools endorsing misogyny, dossier reveals

The Government's former integration tsar has called for a moratorium on the opening of new faith schools after a dossier revealed endorsements of wife-beating and misogyny in Islamic schools.

The contents of a file which showed examples of discrimination and sexism witnessed by Ofsted inspectors were reported in The Times. The findings prompted Dame Louise Casey – who wrote a major report on social integration last year – to accuse the Government of inaction.

Dame Louise told The Times no faith schools should be opened until the problems were addressed – a move advocated by the National Secular Society in its December 2016 report Rethinking religion and belief in public life.

"Some schools are teaching a segregated way of life and misogyny and the government isn't taking enough of a stand," she said. "The public expects them to do that. The DfE (Department for Education) turns a blind eye and hopes that Ofsted will deal with the problem. It's all in the 'too difficult' box." [National Secular Society] Read more

A lesson in silencing dissent: the controversy of hijab in schools

.... As I prepared to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls and to take part in the 16 Days of Activism, I had little idea that a meeting I had attended the previous week would overtake my life in the way it has or present new challenges and dangers for me and my fellow activists.

MP Afzal Khan, MEND and Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, Oldham and Rochdale Council of Mosques have all called for for the "names of the women" who attended a meeting with Ofsted on 17th November.

The attendees could then be outed as "disconnected from grassroots communities", exhibiting "an intolerant, unsound and incoherent understanding of Islam and Muslim practice" and "stirring up anti-Muslim hatred".

Given the accusations, which are simply untrue, I feel I have little choice but to state publicly that I was at the meeting and share the focus of the discussions. The meeting had been organised and publicised several months ago. [National Secular Society] Read more

Ofsted accused of racism over hijab questioning in primary schools

Ofsted’s recommendation for inspectors to question Muslim primary school girls if they are wearing a hijab has been condemned as “kneejerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist” by more than 1,000 teachers, academics and faith leaders.

The schools inspectorate announced this month that the policy was designed to tackle situations in which wearing a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of girls as young as four or five, when most Islamic teaching requires headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty.

But the move has been criticised as a “dangerous” decision that risked “reinforcing an anti-Muslim political culture in which Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism has been institutionalised in schools and across the public sector”.

A letter signed by 1,136 teachers, academics and faith leaders said: “It is a kneejerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist response that will violate civil liberties and create a climate of fear and mistrust in schools, and must be retracted immediately.” [The Guardian] Read more

In praise of Trevor Phillips, the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s latest target

.... Of course in the IHRC’s strange, Khomeinist, moral universe, revealing what some British Muslims actually think must be ‘Islamophobic’. Especially when some British Muslims turn out to think things that are worrying.

A decent group might recognise that the answer to such disturbing findings would be to try to help change what British Muslims think, or make them think more decent things.

But, as I say, the IHRC are a Khomeinist group and for such a group, with such goals, the best course of action is of course to attack anybody who reveals what some British Muslims think. Trevor Phillips simply turns out to be the IHRC’s latest victim. [The Spectator] Read more

Books in UK Islamic school say it's OK to beat women for refusing sex

Library books which sanction domestic violence and say women should never deny their husbands sex have been found by Ofsted inspectors at Islamic schools in the UK.

The texts were part of a file compiled by Ofsted of the worst examples of discrimination and sexism its inspectors had encountered.

Ofsted insiders told the Times the books and writings made for "uncomfortable reading" and that the material found was out of step with mainstream Muslim thinking.

One book found in a school library entitled Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell said it was wrong for wives to show "ingratitude to their husband" or "have tall ambitions".

It described feminism as an atheist conspiracy "driving women towards aberrant ways".

Another school encouraged pupils to read a text comparing "noble women of the East" who protect their modesty with veils with the "internally torn woman of the West" who "leaves her home to knock about aimlessly in cinemas and cafés, malls and bazaars". [International Business Times] Read more

Muslim children are being spoon-fed misogyny

Thus man is definitely master of the woman”, states rule number one on the checklist for children in a book kept in the library at one Islamic school. It’s part of a shocking dossier of material uncovered by Ofsted inspectors on recent visits to faith-based institutions in both the private and state sector.

Photographs of texts in the school libraries as well as examples of pupils’ own work — which I have seen — raise serious questions about the government’s campaign to uphold so-called “British values” in the education system. Despite promising to defend equality, tolerance and mutual respect in schools as part of the drive against extremism, ministers appear to be turning a blind eye .... [The Times (£)] Read more

It’s OK to beat your wife, says Islamic school book

Library books which urge women to be submissive to their husbands and never refuse sex are among a dossier of misogynistic material inspectors have found in Islamic schools.

Ofsted has compiled a file of the worst examples of discrimination and sexism its inspectors encountered. The material includes excerpts from library books and children’s marked work which sanction domestic violence.

Among the worst examples was a book discovered in a school library entitled, “Women who deserve to go to hell” which said that it was wrong for wives to show “ingratitude to their husband” or “have tall ambitions”. [The Times (£)] Read more

26 November 2017

Ahmadi mosques on guard over death threats from Muslims

A minority Islamic sect has introduced airport-style security at its mosques in Britain to screen worshippers for knives and firearms after receiving death threats from other Muslims around the country.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK (AMC), which represents about 30,000 Ahmadis, has brought in walk-through metal detectors, identity checks and bag searches at its prayer centres after threats were made on the life of its leader, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and other group members.

The Metropolitan police are understood to be investigating threats from British Muslims against the community.

Ahmadis, who make up 1% of the UK’s 3m followers of Islam, have been persecuted for years, especially in Pakistan, because they believe Muhammad was not the last Muslim prophet. Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims see that as blasphemous. [The Times (£)] Read more

Ofsted plan to ask schoolgirls about the way they dress. Manchester Muslims say the idea is 'absurd' and un-British

Muslim representatives in Greater Manchester say Ofsted’s plan to ask young girls in primary schools why they are wearing the hijab is ‘unfair and discriminatory’ and will stigmatise them.

The education watchdog’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman announced last week that pupils wearing hijabs would be questioned with their responses documented in school reports.

It comes amid concerns that some young girls were being forced cover up by their parents.

The policy – which has been widely criticised by religious communities – was announced after Ms Spielman met with Muslim and secular campaigners who want a ban on hijabs in primary schools.

Now Greater Manchester’s Muslim leaders have responded with a strongly-worded joint statement signed by the Manchester Council of Mosques, Stockport Muslims, Bolton Council of Mosques, Oldham Mosques Council and the Rochdale Council of Mosques. [Manchester Evening News] Read more

Charity boss's links to online hate

A charity handing out millions of pounds to mosques and other organisations in Britain is run by a former Qatari official who founded a website that instructed Muslims to hate Jews and Christians, the Telegraph can disclose.

Yousef al-Kuwari is the chief executive of Qatar Charity UK, whose work includes the construction of a new mosque in the north of England.

He previously founded Islamweb, a website that issued edicts stating that it is “forbidden” to swear an oath to gain British citizenship. In June, it warned of Jews and Christians: “It is incumbent to hate them for the sake of Allah.”

Qatar Charity UK is the British arm of Qatar Charity, a Doha charity which has been designated a proscribed organisation by neighbouring Gulf states.

.... The charity added that during Mr al-Kuwari’s time as Islamweb chairman “he was not involved in the development or moderation of the website’s content or in its daily management.

“The views and contents expressed in the website do not reflect the views of Mr al-Kawari and cannot be attributed to him. They certainly do not reflect the views of and cannot be attributed in any way to QCUK.” [The Telegraph] Read more

Egypt shows again that Muslims have most to fear from extremist Islamists

.... The primary target of radical Islamist groups is, and always has been, other Muslims. Muslims are the principal victims – and Muslims, more than any other group, are the ones who are fighting them more than anyone else. Rather than problematise them, we ought to recognise that Muslims are an integral – the most fundamental – part of the campaign against radical extremism. Of course, Mr Trump, while offering his condolences to Mr al-Sisi, a close ally, couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge that the victims of this latest atrocity were Muslims.

Another key point is that while it may be tempting to describe this brutal attack as an extremist group attacking another minority in a Muslim-majority country, we ought to be very careful about falling into that trap. Sufis aren’t a sect of Muslims; rather, Sufism is an integral part of mainstream Sunni Islam.

Extremists may deny that, but there is no reason why the rest of us ought to; historically, all normative expressions of Islam took for granted the discipline of Sufism as a spiritual science within Islamic thought. That radicals deem Sufi orders, or those affiliated to them, as renegades is not in keeping with the heritage of Sunni Islam, whether in Egypt or elsewhere. [246 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 289 votes] "Muslims should be embraced by the West"

Perhaps this should be the other way round. Muslims should embrace the West. Adapt to Western society integrate into it take on its values and behaviours.

Accept equalities.

It is not enough to stand apart and then complain that they are not treated in the same way.

[2ND 236] [A COMMENT SAID] "London's mayor is Muslim. Visit Tower Hamlets and many people on the street will be Muslim. Channel 4 news has a Muslim presenter who wares the veil. As so often with people who do not encounter Muslims in daily life, you make the mistake of assuming every Muslim is an actual of potential terrorist. Which plays right into extremists' hate narrative.2

Tower Hamlets is an example of self-segregation, the opposite of integration. I do not think that example helps the point you are trying to make.

[3RD 191] Western civilisation should hold islam in contempt as it is incompatible with democracy,freedom,equality and tolerance.

[4TH 190] Everyone has something to fear from Islamists and anyone who thinks their god is the be all and end all.

[5TH 172] "Muslims have most to fear from Islamists"

Then do something about it. The cancer is in Islam, nowhere near the majority of peaceful Islam, but that hard line Islamic teachings which are a conveyor belt to violent Islamism that too many ignore. It needs to be cut out, fought against at every turn, given no quarter.

I know many in Islamic countries are doing that, but we also know far too many are not. You need a reformation, you need to make Islam fit for purpose in the 21st century. Failure to do so will mean more Islamist terrorism. [Guardian Cif] Read more

25 November 2017

The President of the Muslim Executive Committee suspends an imam from Leuven

The President of the Muslim Executive Committee for Belgium (EMB) has suspended the auxiliary imam at a Leuven mosque.

He is accused of making “unacceptable” statements, it was revealed on Friday evening. This comes after a Het Laatste Nieuws article claimed the imam said a man could “strike his wife lightly if she misbehaved” during a sermon.

The sermon Het Laatste Nieuws referred to happened in November last year. It was made by the auxiliary imam at the Wilsele mosque in Leuven (Flemish Brabant).

The Flemish paper claimed the imam said a man could strike his wife lightly if she misbehaved, if other methods didn’t work. However, he couldn’t hit her “on the face or intimate areas”.

“This type of statement is unacceptable as it legitimises violence against women”, the EMB said on Friday evening.

An EMB Commission questioned the imam who made the sermon. “While waiting for the conclusions of the internal inquiry, the President of the EMB and the EMB’s Theological Council have decided to suspend the imam as a preventative measure”, the EMB said. The EMB is the body that represents Muslims in Belgium. [The Brussels Times] Read more